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Sunday, December 12, 2004
NMCAC "Guadalupe" Exhibit Mini-Review
Douglas Clark: bronze sculptor, Ramon Barela: ceramic sculptor, Aleida Garcia: painter, Rene Z. Garza: photographer, James Hetherington: steel sculptor, Richard Hyslin: photographer, Jessica Salazar-McBride: mixed media sculptor, Elizabeth Puentes: steel sculptor, Paul Valdez: painter, Benjamin Varela: painter, Izel Vargas: painter, and Brian Wedgworth: steel sculptor.
They were asked to create their own rendition of the Virgen de Guadalupe to celebrate her feast day. The exhibit runs Dec. 6 through Jan. 22, 2005.
The Virgin Mary, fondly reffered to as La Virgen de Guadalupe by the pious and sinful alike in Mexican catholic communities, was the subject of reverance and reflection for this exhibition. Each piece marked the artist's own rendition of this iconographic and spiritual figure, bringing to their work their individual styles and personal reflections. With 12 artists giving you their own perspective upon such a monumental figure, you can only imagine the number of optional contemplations the audience has when viewing the exhibition. And perhaps, the experience of this ecclectic exhibition can be simple and purely about spiritual and cultural reverance, but I believe the pieces are more complicated underneath their aesthetic surfaces and I encourage you to dig into the contextual make-up of each piece and make your own interpretations.
For example, here are my contextual interpretations of two artists' whose pieces:
Renee Z. Garza: His photographs, I assume, are from a trip he took to Zacatecas, Mexico. He was one of the first artists to exhibit at the center this year and that exhibition was pretty impressive. What I especially like about his work is how he has added a performance aspect to his collection...he may be the first performance artist I have encountered in the Valley...he sells his work from a cart (a la vendedor de elotes o tacos) or from a wooden crate ( a la vendedor de musica pirateria) and sometimes dresses the part as well... So when I see his photographs...I reference them to all his works as a whole body (photography, sculpture and performance) and how it all corresponds to a personal introspection and cultural affirmation and journey...it's like artistic anthropology. I think an artist is pretty lucky when one can have such a cohesive and yet diverse body of artwork.
Brian Wedgworth: Freestanding steel sculpture "Lupita"....a beautiful and polished form representing La Virgen...but as soon as I saw the piece I couldn't help but make a direct connection to the form as a representation of "the sacred (the form had a halo) feminine" (think the opposite of phallic...yeah, read The Da Vinci Code or see The Vagina Monologues once and you'll start seeing sexual iconography everywhere as well...). But what I find so interesting about this piece is--- that references to the sacred feminine are usually made to Mary Magdalene and not the Virgin Mary (keyword: virgin...and in the Catholic sense...Mary and sexuality are as far apart as China and Poland). I don't know what Brian Wedgworth may have been trying to emulate with this piece and it really could just be a symbolic form of the the Virgin Mary ( the sculpture's name was Lupita)...so I just may be going off on a great tangent here.
I wish I could give mini-reviews for each artist, but I have seen Brian's and Renee's artwork about 3 times so I am a bit more confident about my opinions of their work. I have my initial opinions of the other artists...but most of them are technical observations and aesthetic impressions and I want those to simmer a bit more...and I also should be getting to bed, I have to work mañana (that probably being a bigger influence..lol).
Also a quick note of recogniton to The Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center...the evening was a success and I have never felt a place so saturated with creative energy and expression. If I could compare the center to anything, it would be sponge...because if it were to be squeezed... the best of the Valley's creative juices can be extracted from there. Yeah, it's a corny analogy but I truly believe that...I'm a believer!!!
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